R.I.P. ALCOHOLIC VIRGINITY
Welcome to the promised “My First (And Last?) Drinking Experience” write-up! An in-depth analysis of myself, observations I made of the drinking environment, and a bunch of random reality TV and pop culture references mixed in between. Something for everyone.
Your first question might be “Why wait until you are just shy of 22 years old to have your first dose of alcohol? Did you know legal drinking age in BC is 19, and the unofficial drinking age in order to be popular in high school is 15? What is wrong with you, Wacky?”
Well, I’ll briefly outline that. There are a few reasons:
a) All of my siblings’ extreme alcoholic experiences. I’ll spare their details being blogged for everyone to read, but I assure you the number of outrageous nights they had reached into double digits. That immediately frightened me as a child.
b) Both sides of my family are heavy drinkers. Although I guess most families outside of the Arab world battle cases of alcoholism (didn’t you learn the alcohol-free zone in the Middle East from Argo, too?). So was it the “alcohol ruined their life” cases in the family that discouraged me? Partly. But there is also another side effect when you have families that drink:
Here is the scenario. It’s a relative’s wedding. Or Christmas. Or a major 40th or 50th birthday of some relative you see on occasion.
PERSON #A: Hey, anyone want a beer while I’m up?
PERSON #B: Yep!
PERSON #C: Yep!
PERSON #D: Yep!
PERSON #E: No thanks.
PERSON #A: What about you, Logan? Wine, yes?
PERSON #B: Oh hohohohoho. It’s funny cause he’s only 13.
PERSON #C: I agree, it’s funny. We use this every six months and it gets funnier each time. I am peeing my pants laughing because my bar of what is humourous to me is much lower when I am around family because I must laugh out of pity rather than my true comedic taste.
PERSON #D: Just to be clear, Logan, you can’t drink.
Seriously. This would happen at least four times per summer from the time I was nine through to when I was eighteen.
If you asked me, “Logan, what were the three most annoying comments that extended family could make when growing up?”
My answer would be three things.
i) “Want a drink? Hahahaha no, you’re underage.
ii) “Hi Logan. You’re taller than the rest of your family. Okay, you can be quiet now because I do not have any more interest in speaking with you for the rest of the evening, and will be the only thing I mention whenever I see you.”
iii) “Hey Logan, I know it’s one of the few times that all of us siblings are altogether, but we’re either going to sit and be idle or we’re going to play basketball? Wanna come? Oh, and it’s mandatory that we’ll turn on the television no matter what when you try to sleep on the couch? The other alternative is that after a long car ride that we sit for ten hours as we talk and only junk food is available as we sit and talk some more, and sit, then go out to a baseball game that you could just as easily sit and watch at home where you sit for several more hours, or sit as we drive for several hours to a place you don’t really want to go anyway. Scream at you to sit and play Catchphrase where you always criticize the game for having the least consistent and least competitive rules on the planet of Games Ever Made?What? None of that appeals to you? Well, you can’t say we didn’t offer to do something with you or offer you enough choices for you to make your own decision.”
Okay. That last part about Catchphrase is more of an inside joke if anything.
Pretty much what I was mentally thinking at every gathering once I was in my teens.
– And then seeing the effects of alcohol at these gatherings was just. . .weird. I concluded that drinking around family would never ever be my first drinking experience. If I were to drink, it would merely be a measure to battle depression at these events. Nobody really had a desire to converse with me, there are several topics that I was strongly urged not to converse about, and absolutely nobody acknowledged that this annoyed me. That still persists to the present day, come to think of it.
Meanwhile family members say that my first drinking experience -must- be around family. But in my mind rejected that notion for the following reasons:
a) You always hear about sexual encounters or increased touchy-feely syndrome that occurs.
Example: When I was at a cousin’s wedding, two ridiculously drunk cousins on the groom’s side of the family thought it would be fun to poke others and myself in the chest. What’s worse is that I was underage. The fact that weddings are my least favourite setting in middle class North America, and I have to get poked by complete strangers?
Yeah. That will be the last time I go to a relative’s wedding party/reception after the ceremony. And why for the next couple gatherings I had the number for the local police accompanied by my cell phone. I never want to be in a position where I do something like those two idiots. It was like Penner’s D-bag nature in SCWL: The Prequel but magnify it by a thousand.
So I thought to avoid a) would be the best route to go. A touchy-feely encounter at a family drinking event is just way too weird. It’s the type of stuff Stone Phillips talks about on Dateline.
Or Donny and Marie Osmond experience on a daily basis.
b) People around you care about your last name having some sort of legacy.
Example: My parents are always super duper worried about how they come off to other relatives. Ninety percent of my stress when existing at family gatherings is that my parents worry about every word and/or movement that the family makes. Like you will never see my parents in conflict publicly with another blood relative. Ever.
For someone like me it sucks all the fun out of the room when somebody is so invested in what I say. Therefore I must avoid any situation that will raise an eyebrow, and am forced to sit and be silent while everybody else tries to have fun while walking on pins and needles of their own. Granted they are much freer to do what they wish because they are not in the same position as myself: Being much younger than all other relatives. By the time I am a teenager, everybody else would be full-grown adults.
They have a higher position in the social hierarchy than myself–therefore they do not have to carry these same concerns, worries, burdens, and responsibilities that I have. I will forever be a peon until I am 60 when my older relatives start to croak. Oh boy, I am counting down the days!
Can you imagine drinking in this environment? It would be more of a way to battle the aforementioned depression for the night rather than doing it because it’s a fun social occasion. In addition, I would essentially be drinking alone. Yes, many others would be consuming alcohol as well, but for entirely different reasons than myself. Science has proven that people really suck at being observational and perceptive. Luckily because I am the youngest and some have declared me as the biggest observer they know, it is a gift that I have. This gift also gives me the power to know not to blame others that they suck at empathy and observing another person’s position–it is simply outside their realm of capabilities.
c) It seems people who drank at family occasions used it as an excuse to do something really stupid.
Example: My uncle sitting on my sister at his birthday.
Yeah. I feel too many times that people drink for the sole reason that they can do something stupid and get away with it. It’s not the wheelchair example you learn in Law 12 in Canadian high schools where you can’t get away with REALLY stupid things, but amongst family you can get away with every minor infraction possible because you can attribute it as ‘expected’ when you drink, and not viewed as too big of a deal by others around you. Especially if they are relatives much younger than you. Their threshold for turning a blind eye is much higher.
Unless it’s Joey Potter when she discovers her father is trafficking drugs again in Capeside. Then you can’t turn a blind eye. Yeah. A Dawson’s Creek reference. I only started watching that show because it had an overlap with some of the actors in Freaks and Geeks. And I don’t need to tell you how awesome and hilarious Freaks and Geeks was. . .even if it lasted only one season. 😦
I didn’t want to turn into one of those who drinks as a setup to do a series of reckless things as reward for being a “Goody Too Shoes” as Ari from TAR 12 would say. Drinking as a personal gift to yourself for X number of days of good behaviour is setting yourself up for a trip to Alcoholics Anonymous.
d) I have been very close to passing out and/or throwing up when there was a stench of alcohol or drugs at a family event.
Example: Again, my cousin’s wedding from a few years ago. Near the conclusion of the event, I found myself on the parking lot kneeling over as I waited to vomit. For those of you who don’t know, I have a major phobia of drug awareness lectures, and assumed I nearly vomited because a few people at the wedding used marijuana on the premises.
Or it could have been the fact that two of my cousins who I hadn’t seen in ten years, and in turn were at least ten years older than me, thought their time was best spent making fun of the way I ate a piece of chicken for several minutes. I said nothing as they thought their comments and smirks were subtle. Looking back on it now I feel bad that two 25-year-olds thought their time was best spent making a 15 year old feel as badly as he possibly could while doing something as mundane as eating chicken. Their lives must be really boring and sad for that to happen.
Hmmm. Maybe that’s the reason why I have been a vegetarian for almost four years. Anywayyyyy. . .
Even at other gatherings I would find myself exiting simply because there was too many people in a small space, and I found the scent of alcohol a bit nauseating.
Can’t handle alcohol? Or the known presence of marijuana? Or lots of people in an inadequate space? Yeah, a party that involves drinking may not ever be for somebody like me. I mean these reactions happened more and more frequent at gatherings. If they were at my parent’s house, I’d stay in my room for ten hours. The worst time was sitting in my dad’s car during Christmas and eating dinner there. Whoa. Personal.
Reflecting upon these incidents now though, I assume stress played the biggest factor into all of this. When I am the most ignored person there, and I know full well too many people are fake laughing at the few comments I make because they don’t understand it, well, if you follow this reality TV blog, this would probably be my least favourite environment in the world.
I can recall the last big Christmas gathering where one of my uncles was pretended to laugh at one of my jokes (which wasn’t even that good, mind you, I just wanted to break the silence or prevent my height from being commented on), and then ten minutes later one of his brothers made the -exact- joke and he legitimately laughed. Wow. I never felt smaller than that moment. I am forever too young (Rod Stewart reference?) and perhaps too different (ugh, sounds like something an angsty teen would say) for any of my comments to be respected. Yeah. I’ll just make my exit stage left until I get a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T like Aretha. Or at least exit before you offer me a juicebox and place me on a booster seat at the kids’ table.
Fo realz. I would rather be forced to sit through ten drug awareness lectures and pass out/vomit each time before having to suffer through that incident again. At least then I know it’s a bodily reaction rather than people accidentally and unknowingly acting like jerks to me.
Once the last incident with the uncle occurred, and thinking about all the “you’re too young to drink hahaha” cyclical jokes, I decided that I would always set an example for my nephews and nieces by never drinking at these gatherings, and intend to take down anyone who makes that super annoying comment to them.
Of course now that I am approaching the age of twenty-two and my teen years long gone, this is the first time I was able to reflect on those family experiences from a distance and their impact on me as a person. For those of you who don’t know, the last big gathering I attended was at the age of seventeen. Well, the second-to-last big gathering. There was one more that occurred 18 months ago where it was another big Christmas gathering. I had absolutely zero interest in going. But the only reason I did was because I set up an elaborate gift for the Yankee Swap/White Elephant/Whatever the Crap You Call It.
You know what happened? The joke fell flat and did not receive the desired reaction. My ego was deflated. My own selfish reason for going backfired. And you know what happened the rest of the evening? Nobody talked to me. I helped set up the Hall for our gathering and cleaned up. My biggest regret was not bringing my Nintendo DS to play Phoenix Wright.
Plus there is a lot of overweight people in my family which led to the best dinner menu items to be gone by the time I made it to it. Plus some of them were the veggie ones. As a vegetarian and a narrow palette, this narrows my food choices considerably.
Wah wah wah. First World Problems, I know. But that’s really the only other thing I remember about that whole evening. No desire to go, cranky, joke fell flat, never being acknowledged (granted I never made the effort to talk to any of them but that’s because the idea of walking on pins and needles is never something I will do voluntarily).
The worst part may be that the smokers would smoke right outside the only set of doors that can be used to exit the building. I mean, it’s the ONLY set of doors. You can at least walk away elsewhere to where non-smokers don’t have to enter your cloud of inconsideration for others? Just because you have a life-threatening habit doesn’t mean you have to take us down with you. This isn’t Jonestown. My word.
So we’ve established why I made the decision to never drink around family. Most of you would be saying next:
“Why not be like every rebellious teen ever and drink at a high school party, and tell your parents after the fact as they simply roll their eyes knowing they did the best they could, or attempt to keep it a secret?”
It’s true. I could have gone the “Who’s too young to drink nowwww” move:
WHO’S TOO YOUNG TO DRINK NOW!
. . .or have pride in knowingly keeping it a secret because every teenager is smarter than your parents. Why, even at the age of 21 I know I am still smarter than my parents.
So, reasons why I didn’t drink around other teens in high school:
a) All other teenagers are idiots except me. It’s true.
Example: I was invited over to a friend’s apartment during the twelfth grade. When I entered the place it smelled heavy of cat litter. It was suffocating. Also everyone would smoke indoors. Then there was a joint on the floor. Then they went out to shoplift 7/11. Then they wanted to invite a 30-year-old guy to seduce and play Suck and Blow with.
Many of these people achieved really low grades in school. If these people can’t pass basic courses, then I certainly can’t trust the fact that they can successfully get away with shoplifting. It would be the easiest case for the police to crack. I immediately went home and played “Punchout!!” for the Wii. Salmon Arm!
b) Extra obstacle of not getting caught. Underage = You have to be under-the-radar. Why do I need this unnecessary stress? Haven’t you seen the episode of Freaks and Geeks where they purchase illegal IDs to enter a bar, but end up showing up at a concert of their high school counselor who makes them drink pop? All they did was waste a ton of money on fake IDs. Or Superbad where police chase you down?
And since it’s illegal, where there’s alcohol there will indeed be weed.
Example: Grad Kidnapping. Hours away from home with nothing but illicit booze and kilos of peer pressure available. Plus creepy 20-something-year-old boyfriends always make their way to these things. Do you know how nervous I would be knowing I have to make sure I don’t get caught drinking? And what happens if I do get caught?
C’mon. It’s high school. I have a reputation amongst teachers to keep intact.
c) Teens encourage others to do reckless things.
Example: In the last semester of university, both Grad Kidnappings took place on a school night. Those who participated did AWFUL in the History 12 course that I took in the final semester.
How easy was the course? I received 99% final grade.
How stupid and dumb did alcohol make those idiots who were hungover and fell further and further out of the course as graduation day neared? 65%.
How stupid of a dumb idiot can they be? A lot to get 65. You have to knowingly and willingly put in the effort to get a 65 in History 12. That was CLASS AVERAGE. That means my 99% grade couldn’t help those poor souls who had 57-58 overall between them.
Drinking is one thing, but drinking to the point it drops your marks 20-30 percent (I’ll assume nobody else is capable of getting above 88% because I am that awesome) is just plain reckless.
They are so dumb. For real.
So goodbye to some of their potential scholarships.
d) Teens love to initiate someone into drinking for their own amusement.
Example: Every friend you ever have in high school. Knowing how much I love to see others do really stupid things to raise my own self-esteem and self-confidence, I would assume that others like to see ME do really stupid things to raise their own self-esteem and self-confidence.
When people do this, they don’t care about teen deaths due to alcohol statistics that we are shown in every MADD commercial ever made. We forget about the people we know personally who died in the 9th or 10th grade because of these accidents. Cogito Ergo Sum Ergo I Am Immortal as Descartes would say (I don’t know Latin for ‘I Am Immortal’)
In short, drinking around other teens was a bad idea because of a lack of trust for my peers and because I was too afraid of permanent damage to be done to me as a result.
So the following problems had to be solved before I had my first day of being in an environment where I join in on the mutual consumption of liquor:
a) I am a Nervous Nelly Furtado.
b) I need to be around those who make me comfortable
c) I need to be around those who don’t know me well. Therefore, they will need to talk to me about stuff that I haven’t heard a trillion times like an excessive apology to Ms. Jackson.
d) I need to be around those who I like being around and who I want to get to know and can be a decent conversationalist.
e) Be in an environment where I am entertained.
f) Be in an environment where I am not claustrophobic
g) Have the self-confidence to avoid peer pressure
h) Somehow get over my illicit drug phobia, or be in a place where my phobia will be distracted by other stimuli for the night.
So that pretty much sums er up. Stay tuned for part 2 where I detail my first drinking experience and all of the pop culture references and observations I make about the “drinking party” that I made throughout the evening until the early hours of the mohhhhning (said in Welcome to Atlanta tone “Where parties don’t stop until eight in the mohhhhning”.)
P.S. I hope this piece about self-reflection is entertaining than the other 100, 000 blogs that are entirely devoted to teens and those in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s who want everyone to join in on their First World Suburban tears more than the Crying Man from Intervention.